Advanced Psychosocial Teacher Training Program in Lebanon
HWH aims to support the psychosocial well-being of the teachers in whose care these children are placed. In attending to the emotional education and personal development of the teachers, we provide essential support for their capacity to meet the children where they are emotionally. It is reasonable to assume some of the children, if not all, will still be carrying the trauma and stress of their ruptured lives. HWH develops the teacher’s ability to be present, compassionate and strong in themselves. This is advantageous in terms of the children’s primary need for stability and safety in their relationships with adults – an essential prerequisite for learning.
What is the benefit or problem we are solving?
Teaching in general can be a stressful experience. This is exacerbated by the children’s traumatic experience of displacement and war and their subsequent behavioural issues/trauma responses (fight, flight, freeze, fawn). Equally, teachers are vulnerable to the impact of the region’s current and potential threats. Traumatized teachers need an opportunity to build their resilience and their understanding of the difference between authoritarian attitudes and cohesive learning ability.
How is HWH’s approach more effective than ‘normal’ teaching approaches?
HWH offers a holistic (whole person = emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual) approach to personal development. It is a systemic approach that sees the attendant not just as an individual, but as part of familial, communal, tribal, national, cultural, ancestral systems – all of which are referenced in the training to enable the participant to find a peaceful and respectful relationship with all those elements within him or herself. It is an experiential educational process. Less concerned with technique and more with deeply establishing within the trainee a sense of their worth, responsibility and ability to impact the world for the better. HWH works on emotional intelligence and builds new resilience both spiritually and emotionally – enabling an ability to witness their own experience and that of others with love, understanding and respect. Lastly, the HWH approach builds strong, self nurturing communities that, at local and ultimately regional levels, bonds diverse groups of people regardless of tribal or sectarian loyalties. It enables random, unmatched groups to consolidate and act in a unified way.
Varying psychosocial trainings for teachers (in Lebanon) are focused on giving teachers ‘techniques’ and ‘teaching strategies’ to work with the children. These trainings are often not targeting the wellbeing of teachers and building their emotional resilience. HWH uses an experiential educational approach that aims to support teachers and educationalists in the important tasks they carry. Nurturing emotional intelligence and well-being is key to developing teachers’ skills to become mindful, self-aware, and foster children’s healthy development in a safe and caring environment.
What evidence do we have that HWH has achieved its intended goals?
An evaluation of the programme occurred in 2015. Below is a small selection of relevant information:
- Participants expressed that personal growth and forgiveness as the result of participating in the HWH workshops was connected to their capacity to integrate the learning(s) in their personal and professional life.
- 85% of the participants reported having been able to integrate learning into their personal and professional life.
- Participant testimony: “the nature of my work requires that I heal myself as much as possible to be able to help others to heal too and not project my own sufferings onto them. It also requires that I work on myself, forgive myself, accept myself in order to accept my future patients with an open mind and no judgement.”
- Reports from teachers that have taken part suggest that the tools and exercises learned at the HWH workshops can be used in their teaching and work with young people.
- Participant testimony: “I work with high school students and school is a structure that doesn’t create the space for various aspects of a person to come into place. We focus most on the intellect not how can we educate the ‘whole child’. This workshop has given me techniques to use with my students in my classes.”
- The overall evaluation concluded that 89% of all stated aims and goals had been met according to the participants, the highest being ‘deepening the connection between self and Other’ at 98%.
This has been attributed to the workshops’ focus on developing self-awareness, and on cultivating a deeper understanding of the part that forgiveness plays in one’s personal healing and reconciliation with others.
Since 2012, fifteen HWH workshops have been held (average of 3 days with 28 participants per workshop), and each one of them is a key change agent who is effecting a bigger circle in their family, NGOs, school, work, and community.
An evaluation of the HWH program for the year 2016 has recently been completed.
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Can we work with teachers and administrators from Syria?
HWH intends to offer combined trainings drawing from both the self-selecting, highly motivated groups currently attending, while simultaneously including teachers and administrators from Syria. HWH is taught in English, with HWH bilingual trainers supporting the process. The intention is to manage the challenge faced with groups of potentially less motivated groups (people attending because they may feel it’s part of their job or that they simply have to) by incorporating the energetically positive element of a more motivated group alongside. Cross pollination between the two worlds is also highly desirable in terms of alleviating the already evident mistrust between Lebanese and refugee communities as well as building bridges between NGO professionals and the beneficiaries of their work.
What would the training process look like and how long would it take?
Currently HWH are offering four modular processes in Jan, Mar, Jun and Nov 2017. Each of these creates opportunities for participants to develop their own well-being as well as to enhance their relational skills over a suggested minimum of three modules. It is possible to complete a module at any time of the year. For example, someone may begin on Module 3 and then do Modules 4, 1 and 2. The modules are non residential and take place at the Silk Museum, Bsous in an area of great natural beauty and close to Beirut. (Support can be offered with transport to and from the training).
Each module will take a minimum of two days and a maximum of 4 days (9:00 am-5:00 pm) to complete. We are able to include 20 teachers per module.
Over the course of the training, the HWH team (Alexandra Asseily, Mathew Pruen, Mirvat Bakkour, Maysa Mourad) will deliver the programme designed by Alexandra Asseily and Matthew Pruen.
Who would manage it all and what would a process look like in practice?
The HWH program is one of the main programs of the Centre for Lebanese Studies, a centre committed to research, academic projects and activities related to historical and contemporary issues and professional development of teachers in history education.
The program has been established with the support of the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace.